There is a revolution on the South/Central Coast and Allen Associates is leading the way, and winning. The revolution emphasizes "green building" and its principal and principle advocates are Dennis Allen and Ian Cronshaw, general contractors and partners of Allen Associates, a Santa Barbara building firm focusing on residential and light commercial construction throughout the South/Central Coast.

"Few are opposed to the revolution," emphasizes Dennis. "Who's not in favor of leaving a better world for their children and grandchildren? We're changing the way we build and the way we think about structures. At our best, we approach structures like living organisms, considering the whole product in its environment instead of treating it as an assemblage of components. Waste becomes input, energy is generated and conserved, air and water become purified and people are healthier and more productive. Additionally, we're trying to educate people that environmentally friendly structures can blend into today's lifestyles and the way people want to live."

This remodel of a Santa Barbara home has been completed in the old mission style by Allen Associates, Santa Barbara, above. (Photos by Ian Cronshaw, Allen Associates.)

"At our best, we approach structures like living organisms, considering the whole product in its environment instead of treating it as an assemblage of components. Waste becomes input, energy is generated and conserved, air and water become purified and people are healthier and more productive. Additionally, we're trying to educate people that environmentally friendly structures can blend into today's lifestyles and the way people want to live," says Dennis Allen, Allen Associates, Santa Barbara.

Allen Associates has been environmentally focused for more than 25 years. The group built the first solar houses in Santa Barbara in the mid-1970s and more recently is the only building contractor receiving, since its inception four years ago, the annual "Green Builder of the Year Award" from the Santa Barbara Contractors' Association. This year at the association's annual banquet Allen Associates also walked away with the Builder of the Year award and three other construction awards, including best residential remodeling for less than $250,000, best residential remodeling for between $250,000 and $750,000, and best landscape and "hardscape" project.

Winning awards on the local, state and national level for completed projects has kept Allen Associates in the limelight for years and it also has given Dennis an opportunity to learn from others and to refine his green building philosophies. "It's exciting to see what's working," he insists. One of his latest endeavors is the instigation of the Green Building Alliance" a group of professionals dedicated to building, designing and landscaping projects "with the environment in mind." With its own Web site and brochures, the alliance hopes to show that to be truly sensitive to the environment, projects need to begin at the design/build stage. The alliance advocates forming a team of environmentally conscious professionals for each project - architect, contractor, engineers and interior designer - who are focused on current ways to create environmentally friendly projects, structures that conserve energy, water, and resources while costing no more.

"If we begin with the site as well as the lifestyle of the future residents or occupants of the home or structure, we can produce a more environmentally-sensitive building," Dennis explains. "Sometimes people become aware of environmental issues after a structure is well into the design or even construction stages. At that point any efforts to make a project green are more of a band-aid in impact and certainly less cost effective than if the project had been created taking with environmental concerns from its inception."

Remodel and addition to the historic Montecito music conservatory and estate by Allen Associates, above. (Photos by Ian Cronshaw, Allen Associates.)

Allen Associates, a member of the Green Building Alliance, has made public its commitment to green building in a company brochure, explaining how environmental concerns and issues can be handled by its associates. Calling itself " A Green Company," the brochure discusses how homes, offices and stores can generate energy rather than consume it, how they can produce pure air and zero waste, and especially how structures can not only be more healthy for people but also more comfortable and cost effective. The brochure explains the firm's mission statement and its minimum commitment for every project. These include avoiding CCA pressure-treated lumber, using only low or zero volatile organic compound (VOC) paints and mastics, avoiding particle boards that out-gas formaldehydes, taking measures to prevent invasive molds and fungi, using insulated light fixtures, recycling job waste, and building with wood from certified sustainably harvested forests.

"If we begin with the site as well as the lifestyle of the future residents or occupants of the home or structure, we can produce a more environmentally-sensitive building," says Dennis Allen, Allen Associates, Santa Barbara.

Along with all of this, the company promises to build more innovative structures and to continuously seek green solutions that reduce cost. "Making all these statements is one thing but putting them in writing lets people know how serious we are," Dennis explains. "Our associates meet bi-monthly to discuss how we're progressing on projects, and about the latest research for new green products, strategies and systems and what innovations have been made in the industry. It' s very rewarding."

Allen Associates, with the principal partners, includes 10 associates who work on site and supervise the 65 employees affiliated with the company. Each associate has a home computer terminal linked to the main office and handles the administrative paperwork of his projects. Most of the associates are licensed contractors but have remained with the company because of the numerous benefits involved. The firm includes five trainee-associates and a central office. "Our company focuses on realizing goals," says Dennis. "It's management by objective. We look for growth in various areas and we meet often to keep the focus and update our objectives. This is a serious commitment for us, we continually raise the bar on ourselves." In addition to the company' s overall goals, each associate is expected to have individual objectives that relate to the company. "We are looking for growth in all areas. We want to expand our expertise in green building, improve our training, deepen our research, and raise our professionalism - it's all part of where we want to go as a company ," he adds. The research includes knowing which green products work best for this area and are most cost-effective for the lifestyles of clients on the South/Central Coast. "We only use products that are tested and that we have thoroughly investigated. Our clients trust us to do that research for them and we do. People expect more now than they used to."

Homes remodeled by Allen Associates, Santa Barbara, with a focus on contemporary lifestyles include this Montecito cottage, a dining room remodel and expansion. (Photos by Ian Cronshaw, Allen Associates.)

Allen Associates' focus on green building springs from its roots. Dennis was teaching at the University of California at Santa Barbara and also was assistant dean of students in the department in the mid-1970s and often expressed an interest in alternative energy, principally harnessing solar energy.

A friend asked him to build a solar home. As one home led to another, his expertise increased, until, in the late '7Os, he began teaching about using solar energy in the home setting as well as other environmental building approaches. By the early 1980s his group had evolved into a crew of licensed contractors and he was no longer teaching at UCSB. Ian, a UCSB graduate in math and science, decided construction was more his interest than medicine. He met Dennis while taking a weekend tiling class offered by the UCSB extension center. Dennis, the instructor, offered him a job after the class and Ian became a partner with Allen Associates in 1990. Now, 10 years later, Allen Associates is nationally known because of its craftsmanship, its leadership, and its excellent projects, especially those that are environmentally oriented.

"We are looking for growth in all areas. We want to expand our expertise in green building, improve our training, deepen our research, and raise our professionalism - it's all part of where we want to go as a company," says Dennis Allen, Allen Associates, Santa Barbara.

Homes remodeled by Allen Associates, Santa Barbara, with a focus on contemporary lifestyles include this South Coast residence, a kitchen and dining room remodel and expansion. (Photos by Ian Cronshaw, Allen Associates.)

As a bonus, recognition for their efforts came in the form of numerous awards from local and national organizations. In addition to his focus on the environment and in keeping with his goal to provide his best effort for the community in every possible area, Dennis is a volunteer for numerous groups. He is a member of The Sustainability Project, started in 1993, and he sits on the county's Innovative Building Review Committee. He serves with the Mission Canyon Architectural Review Board. He' s also co-chair of the Santa Barbara Contractors' Environmental Committee and is the lead organizer of this year's Green Building Parade, the first of its kind on the South/Central Coast. "The parade is to show that green building is not just a series of products," says Dennis. "It's a way to build from start to finish."

As the principal green builders on the South/Central Coast, Dennis, Ian and Allen Associates are happy to be leading the way in the green building revolution. "We want to keep learning and be responsible for what we do," maintains Dennis. "Our commitment to green building continues to help us create a company that is good for the people who work here, the community we live in, and our larger environment. In this evolving field, one never fully arrives, but we seek ever deeper shades of green on a number of fronts. We're determined to stay on the cutting edge in all of them."

This recent remodel and addition to an old adobe home on Santa Barbara's Riviera by Allen Associates, Santa Barbara, was winner of the Santa Barbara Contractors Association's Green Building Award for 2000. (Photos by Ian Cronshaw, Allen Associates.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Construction was recently completed by Allen Associates on this Toro Canyon Estate and compound. (Photos by Ian Cronshaw, Allen Associates.)

 

 

 


Dennis Allen, left, and Ian Cronshaw, partners with Allen Associates, stand in front of a completely remodeled home on the Santa Barbara Riviera, winner of the 1999 SBCA Green Building Award. An auxiliary building was constructed on the site by Allen Associates as well. (Photo by Stillmeadow Productions.)

Allen Associates
1427 Tunnel Road, Santa Barbara, Ca 93105
Phone (805) 682-4305

©2001-2003 Allen Associates. All rights reserved.
Web Construction by PND Software